Google Shopping is a Google price comparison and, together with Product Listing Ads (PLAs), is part of the Google ads platform. Online stores display their products on this Google portal with ads that contain the image and product data advertised in Google search results. They usually pay based on the number of clicks the ad receives. To be part of Google Shopping target, an account is required in Google ads and an account in the Merchant Center.
Google Shopping target was originally called Google Base and was released in 2005. Initially, owners of online stores could register for free in the Merchant Center and download their data. Products were advertised for free on the Google Base portal. After Google Shopping became a fundamental part for Google, the company decided to cancel the free version and transform it into a payment platform in February 2013. Now, if a seller wants their product on Google Shopping, he has to pay based on the Cost Per Click (CPC) model.
Product Listing Ads
Product Listing Ads (PLA) are part of the new Google Shopping system. They are image ads that appear in the organic Google results with a label that defines them as Ads. A PLA usually consists of a product image, the price and a brief description (Meta Description).
The position in which the PLA ad appears is established through Google ads: it receives the information through a database that has been previously incorporated into the Google Merchant Center.
Google PLA ads can even be limited to regions or countries, such as display or text ads. Google also offers different types of display and betting strategies. The main feature of this type of ads is that you must choose an entire catalog for the selected ad, in addition to displaying specific individual products based on your ID or saved keywords. This way, sellers can offer very specific PLA campaigns to achieve a greater impact on their target audience and obtain better results.
Using Google Shopping
If you want to show your products on Google Shopping through the Product Listing Ads you need to have a valid account in Google ads and an account in the Google Merchant Center. While the database is in the Merchant Center, the Google ads account is the one that you must use to make your ads.
The price of the ad will depend on the number of clicks your ad receives through Google Shopping and based on the agreed price in your Google ads account.
Google clearly details what information the product database should contain so that the products can be viewed in the search results. The price and availability are very important. Each product must be easily identifiable with an MPN (Manufacturer Part Number), an EAN (International Article Number) or ISBN (International Standard Book Number).
If the product list does not meet the requirements, the Google Merchant Center account will be blocked. Therefore, it is recommended that all data provided to Google be updated and as clear and simple to understand as possible.
The regulations that apply to all Google ads’ in general also apply to PLAs. No drugs or weapons can be sold on any Google Shopping target. If you want to use Google Shopping internationally, inform yourself about the specific requirements of each country. For example, for pharmacies, there are very strict rules and these must be approved by Google, in addition to the general registration in the Google ads account.
Google Shopping ‘cons’
With Google Shopping, Google has expanded its payment services portfolio and is in competition with other price and product comparison portals. Google has already received a lot of criticism about its PLAs since many competitors believe that Google takes advantage of its position of power to leave its competitors at a disadvantage.
Because Google has also integrated the ability to search and even buy flights directly from the search engine through Google Maps for free, users do not use the other portals. With the current update of Hummingbird and the improved Knowledge Graph, Google has further improved its position.
Google Shopping and SEO
When Google Shopping was still a free portal, sellers used their product lists represented a way to improve their SEO and presence in organic search results. An online store that presented its products on Google Shopping, benefited from an increase in visibility in the SERPs without having to pay additional costs.
Currently, Google Shopping and Google ads have no direct influence on the positioning of organic search results. However, like any other measure of SEA, these paid ads do have an impact on SEO. Through paid advertising (PLAs), online stores increase their brand image and improve their results in direct searches to, ultimately, get more traffic and increase their sales. When this occurs, Google believes that said online store offers added value to its users and, therefore, improves its positioning in organic search results, as well.
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